[I thought I would go ahead and post the remainder of the article rather than break up up any further. This makes it a little longer, so take a few minutes to read it all.]

Can a simple, organic, house church do missions? Can our Lord raise up apostolic teams and send them to the nations out of our house churches and networks? The answer is yes! But, there needs to be some changes in the way we think and approach missions or we will fall into the same traps that plague the institutional missions effort. This is the reason for the series of articles. Hopefully it will spawn some discussion, but most of all spur us all to take the gospel of the Kingdom into the regions of our world where there is no witness, no preaching and no church. Basically to those who are out of reach. “How will they hear unless someone is sent?” (Romans 10:14-15)

A SIMPLE PROCESS:
• Study God’s Word (see Part 2)
• Pray for the Nations (see Part 3)
• Find a “Champion” (see Part 3)
• Pray for harvest, and opportunity for all to participate in that harvest (see Part 3)
• Seek the Lord for His Plan (see Part 4)
Follow the Plan (See Parts 5-10)

Follow the Plan – Continued . . .

• Training Opportunities.
As your network extends out, reaching folks form other cultures, you will realize the need for further training if you are going to effectively reach an unreached people group. Continue to read books, attended a local World Christian Perspectives Course, (For more information go to www.perspectives.org) and availed yourselves to every avenue of learning they could find to equip themselves to be effective cross-cultural servants.

One of the hidden benefits of reaching out to other cultures in your region is that you will discover that several individuals and couples have the gift to minister cross culturally. This will confirm their call to other peoples. From this discovery within your church and network, you will have the beginnings of an apostolic team of cross cultural workers who would now be ready to plan to go to the nations!

• Expanding the Network.
The network should continue to do research regarding the unreached people group they have chosen. From this research you will find found out that there are several other groups and churches who have adopted the same unreached peoples. You may even discover that there is a regular gathering of those churches, and they come together to discuss how they can assist one another in reaching their adopted unreached people group.

• Sharing the Vision.
At this time the network should begin to share the vision to be apostolic and reach out to an unreached people group to the point that many of the believers within the network want to support the effort to reach the unreached people group with their finances and business skills. So the network “champions” seek the Lord for a plan to handle the funds, establish entrepreneurial opportunities and develop a preliminary budget based upon their research and the potential apostolic teams need for funding.

• Forming Partnerships.
After meeting with several of the other churches who have adopted the same group as your church or network, form a partnership with them to assist one another in the purpose of reaching this unreached people group. Out of this partnership the network could host an unreached people group consultation for other House Church Networks and churches that are willing to co-operate together for the purpose of reaching unreached people groups. As a result, prayer efforts for the unreached people groups increase and become more effective by the spread of information. The reality of a church being planted among these unreached people groups is now becoming more than a dream, but a reachable goal.

Through these partnerships the “champions” are able to assess the resources available. This is not only funding that is available, but human resources as well. This includes gifting, talents, life skills and availability of the potential apostolic team. Eventually there will be a clear understanding of the level of resources that are available to the degree in which each church or other networks could easily participate in support, prayer, administration and the like. As a result, the partnership will grow and then there is a clear network of believers and congregations that are now committed to reach the unreached people group!

As a result of research and networking, the network partnerships will discover and identify the believers in other nations who desire to reach the unreached. You will soon realize that there are total congregations and networks that want to do the same thing you have done. Out of this research, the churches outside of the United States became part of the network to reach the unreached people group. The network will grow and focus together on the goal of reaching the unreached. From this, several partnerships could be developed in order to accomplish actual tasks needed to be done to reach the adopted unreached people group. Some of these partners may focus on the humanitarian needs, some on developing the prayer network, some on training and assisting the apostolic teams that are gearing up to go to the unreached people group.

• Take a Research.
Trip While this is going on you could lead a group to the region where the unreached people group lives to pray for them and do research. This trip should include several of the members of the apostolic team. They can prepare the team and teach them how to do the research and other cross-cultural pointers they would need to know. If they are unable to train on these matters, there are others that can come along side your team and train them. (Contact dondavis@house2harvest.org for more information.)

When the team returns, and after much prayer, study, reviewing their research, and seeking God’s will; the apostolic team can then write out a strategic plan to reach their unreached people group. The team then comes into agreement with the network as to when they are ready to take the steps needed to be deployed to the region where the unreached people group lives.

• Developing a Support Plan for the Team.
The network can now develop a realistic support mechanism for the apostolic team. You can answer the question regarding what will work best in regards to entering this new culture. Should the main source of support be business? Then you need to find investors in that business. Is it raising funds to support the time outright? Or could it be a combination of both? This depends on many factors: Your team, the field, and the capacity of your network. Many times to start, the network will provide full financial support until the local business is making enough capital to fund the workers needs. This will also depend on whether the team is joining with an already established work that is already developed on the field.

This is why it is import to find other on the field who has adopted the same unreached people group. The apostolic team needs to deepen their research and gather more information regarding other missionaries and missions organizations that are targeting their group. They should also take the opportunity to learn about these other churches and ministries and see if there is an opportunity to network and partner with them.

• More Training.
The apostolic team should now become more intentional in their learning regarding how to be effective cross-cultural workers. They could take several courses and seminars on the subject and study everything they can find. Through the local cross-cultural ministry out of their church, there is also the opportunity for the apostolic team to work through certain skills that will allow them to function effectively as a church planting team.

The “champions” in your network should also meet together with the apostolic team and review their strategic plan and revise it according to what they have learned so far. This process will take many hours together in prayer as well as discussion regarding the will of the Lord. Throughout this process the apostolic team will not only be prepared, but was able to determine when and if they are ready to go. The network should search for the best opportunity for the apostolic team to be trained in the area of pre-field orientation to help them adjust to their new home.

• Moving to Region of the Unreached.
When this phase of training is finally complete, the apostolic team then moves to the region where the unreached live. This is now the beginning of a new phase for the network. The apostolic team has entered the process of ministry leading toward facilitating a church planting movement among the people group. (See www.house2harvest.org/docs/ChurchPlantingMovementsBk.pdf for more information)
The first order of business is to arrange for the teams language learning. It is imperative that they begin learning the language of the people they will be ministering to as well as the “trade” language of the region. After more time of study and observation, the apostolic team should then begin to form their strategy that sees a “Disciple Making Movement” among their people group. It is important to note that their strategic plan should not be finalized until after they have spent some time living among the culture. In fact, it may always be modified as understanding of the culture increases. It is important to remember that the church that is birthed among any people group must be grounded in the process of making disciples. Many times the term “church” paints an erroneous picture not only in the world of Christianity, but in other religions as well. That is why I prefer “Disciple Making Movement” over “Church Planting Movement.” The apostolic team should learn as much as they can about other Church Planting Movements and develop a specific plan for reaching their group. This will only come after many days of prayer, fasting and research.

• Disciple Making Begins.
After learning the basics of language to the point that the team can share their testimony and some simple Bible stories they can now locate some people and find that “person of peace” (Luke 10) and “partner” with them. The apostolic team will then initiate their disciple making movement strategic plan and continue to learn the language. The apostolic team should regularly communicate with the network to let them know their plans. This allows for the network to know the necessary resources that are needed to assist the apostolic team to accomplish their strategic plan. The network also should contact other networks to see where they can partner and assist the team.

After several months the apostolic team should be able to develop relationships with a few men and women of peace (see Kevin Greeson, Camel Training Manual Bangalore, India: WIGTake Resources, 2004, pgs 35-41.). The apostolic team then begins to meet on a regular basis with these new disciples in order to prepare them to be disciple makers among their own people. It is not long before these new believers are sent out to reach their own people and quickly led many to the Lord, disciple them and see churches planted among their own people group. These new churches will be discipling apostolic leaders to make disciples thus planting house churches. Throughout this process the disciple making movement begins with no control or personal involvement of the apostolic team or network from the USA. To do otherwise would stifle the growth of the churches.

• Don’t Rush the Process.
This process may take several years to accomplish, and it is time well spent. There will be churches being planted among the unreached people group who will be rapidly reproducing across their region wherever the unreached are found. The apostolic team needs to stay out of the way and serve as coaches to these new churches amongst this people group.

Conclusion: What can we learn from this?

A house church network can successfully do missions, not just any missions, but strategic missions reaching unreached people groups. Remember, “An unreached people group is a people group within which there is no viable indigenous church planting movement with sufficient strength, resources, and commitment to sustain and ensure the continuous multiplication of churches.”

Would you like to see to see a missions movement started and maintained to the point that they not only reach their “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and ends of the earth” but that they also become a model for other churches assisting them to do the same even to the point of providing a network of apostolic sending churches working together to reach the unreached? Can your house church be a mobilized apostolic church which has birthed a missions movement such as this?

How does this happen? Can this be done? Is the process I have described above impossible for the house church? Is it unrealistic to think that simple, organic, house churches can do this? It is God’s desire that every tribe, nation and tongue become part of his Church. If the house church movement is to be more than a movement or more than a method, it is to be at the center of what God is doing in His Church today. The house church movement will then be at the forefront in reaching the unreached fulfilling her apostolic mission.

Now, what are you going to do?

[Don is available to come to your area and share with your group or network to assist your church to reach the unreached. dondavis@house2harvest.org ]

Works Cited (Parts 1-10)
Accelerating International Missions Strategies. Steps Towards a Mature Missions Movement in the Local Church Seminar. Virginia Beach, VA: AIMS, 2007.
Accelerating International Missions Strategies. Harvest Connection Seminar. Virginia Beach, VA: AIMS, 2007.
Garrison, David. Church Planting Movements – How God is Redeeming a Lost World. Midlothian, VA: WIGTake Resources, 2004
Greeson, Kevin. Camel Training Manual. Bangalore, India: WIGTake Resources, 2004.
Hirsch, Allen. The Forgotten Ways, Reactivating the Missional Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2006.

Recently I had (and am still having a discussion with a friend) regarding a church’s governmental structure (By Laws) and the issues that are inconsistent with what I perceive the Lord is doing in His Church today. There were two major themes that caused me great concern, and I would like to discuss them here. These two issues are closely related because one error leads to the other.

These two issues are:

  1. The error of replacing the headship of the church with a man rather than keeping Christ as the head.
  2. Setting up a system that creates a class system within the body of Christ (laity and clergy) rather than allowing for each believer to develop/mature under the leading and lordship of Christ in community.

In regards to the first, (the error of replacing the headship of the church with a man rather than keeping Christ as the head) this has been one of the major errors throughout the history of the Church. This has been a ploy of Satan throughout the ages from Cain and Able, to Babel, to choosing a king in Israel, to the desecration of the Temple.

Jesus came to establish the Kingdom of God and the good news was that the King has arrived and his name is Jesus. We have no need for another king, another mediator, another leader that reigns supreme. When we ignore this reality in our church life and reduce the presence of Jesus to a faith statement at best we are robbing ourselves of what Jesus came to do. When we gather in His name He is really in our midst. He is not there figuratively, He is not there as a memory from the past or hope in the future – but He is there. Why is He there? He is there to administrate His authority as King. (Matt 18:18-20).

Why don’t we expect Jesus to administrate his supreme authority when we gather, or when we lead the affairs of a local church? Why do we look to men to replace our King? Why can’t we step aside and let Jesus be king and head of His Church? There are a few possible reasons, it could be unbelief, or lack of knowledge, or just plain lust for power to be in charge. This practice is a great sin. Our churches should resist everything the raises its head to replace the headship of our Lord and King Jesus. The only other head allowed in scripture is the husband being the head of his home, (Eph 5:22-24 – and that is in the context of explain Jesus as the head). Nowhere is there a mention of a man, regardless of his gifting, replacing Christ as the head of His Church.

Are we willing to structure our churches governments, meetings, ministries and activities with Jesus as Lord and King? Are we willing to have a relationship with him that is so real that we not only acknowledge his presence – but we expect him to preside? There is a desire in the body of Christ to have more intimacy with the Lord, to get a touch from the Lord, to have a visitation from the Lord both when we gather as well as in our hearts and lives. Is it possible that the reason these experienced are sometimes fleeting or at best for short seasons is because we refuse to submit to His lordship and plan our lives, our budgets, our ministries around the ideas of the “body” rather than the head?

What will it take to change? It first starts with me – how about you?

My next entry will discuss point #2: Setting up a system that creates a class system within the body of Christ (laity and clergy) rather than allowing for each believer to develop/mature under the leading and lordship of Christ in community.